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Run For Your Life: Winning by losing (weight)

For millions of years, humans fed themselves off the land. The energy to find food balanced its nutrition and people had no weight management problems.

Then all hell broke loose when we invented farming. And before long, Stop and Shop, and Peapod and M&M’s replaced native berries. We now need miracle diets that “guarantee” weight loss — inches and pounds off within a week, a day, an hour! How many have you tried?  

Starting them is a piece of cake (of course, you can eat as much as you want). The only problem is that nothing sustainable occurs. The core problem is that the pain of the diet is greater than the reward of losing a few pounds.

Instead of me ranting about exercise, let’s have guidance from an Islander who has found a solution. “Without a doubt, walking has saved my life. I feel incredibly blessed to discover the simple, sustainable, peaceful and empowering joy of it,” said John (not his real name). Wow, what a simple and effective balance to those nasty M&M’s. Walking on Shelter Island offers fantastic views and an education into the natural world all around us.

From our many quiet roads, you can add nature walks in Mashomack Preserve and the growing number of pocket paths via 2% funds and avoid traffic and bikes completely.

John was not immediately a walking advocate — just the opposite. He waged the battle of his bulge for 35 years. About every five years, his weight would skyrocket to 60, even 80, pounds over what nature and he wanted it to be.

In younger years, exercise was the painful but effective solution. One of his regular exercise programs he engaged in was a triathlon (half-mile open water swim, 12-mile bike ride, and a 3-mile run). No doubt that would take the weight off any living thing. But no matter how extreme, the weight was the victor in the contest.

Then he discovered that extreme exercise was not as effective as long walks on the roads and paths of Shelter Island. The secret to bringing his weight down 68 pounds was the joy associated with doing it. The results speak for them-selves. The Beatles, “Love is All You Need” works. When you can find an activity that you enjoy, then just do it. Walking seems a near-perfect candidate. Given the nature of the news and media, the chance to escape the house and enjoy the beauty of this island, what’s to lose? And maybe meet your neighbors as well? 

We are a sheltered island. We can’t avoid seeing each other on the roads, in the stores, at the restaurants and the Post Offices. It is easy to recognize the faces and occasionally, with some luck, their names. I’m also an observer of people who are on the roads doing running and walking. It’s not difficult to see who’s out there on a routine basis. This incentive is for you to join the fun.

John’s story is about a real advocate who devoted 35 years to learn about walking. You have the advantage of taking his experience to your benefit. Controlling and sustaining a good weight target adds years to your life and pleasure as well. The exercise is the secret. His walking skills are world-class, but he’s not doing it without good reason. Please consider his case because yours will certainly not be as challenging.

Isaac Newton showed that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Law applies to the forces in our own lives. You can take a radical attack on any bad habits. You can force yourself into extremes and get immediate results. Unfortunately, as Newton said, there is a rubber band effect to return to the original problem. Once again, there’s a cycle of reducing weight and gaining weight, then reducing weight on and on.

The solution is to find something that balances the effort, minimizes the pain, and gives you joy in the process. Walking strengthens, not damages your body, and provides you time to think, organize and plan. It ‘s not a diversion as much as an opportunity.

I appreciate John’s sharing his solution to a problem that we all must manage. Since we’re not returning to gathering our food, walking and weight management are the solution.